Pre-school with a view
• Barbara Lawlor
A building remodeled to specifically fit the needs of the preschool. Sunshine pouring into the main classroom. A feeling of freedom, of choices.
The former Over the Rainbow Preschool is now the Aspen Grove Preschool and after a couple of years of jumping through permitting hoops, the facility on West First Street is now open and ready to welcome new students.
Aspen Grove preschool has up to 16 students enrolled, many of them having moved with the school. It is licensed to have 19 students, and Director Rachel Schaub said parents are welcome to come and tour the school.
This fall, Aspen Grove will celebrate 10 years since it opened in the fall of 2003. Rachel taught in 2004, left and came back in 2008. Two years later she was named director. At that time, the school had already begun looking into purchasing a building.
“We wanted the flexibility to do what we wanted with the building. We wanted to expand and we wanted to own rather than rent,” Schaub said. She began writing grants and when the new building went up for sale, the transition began in earnest.
At first neighbors had concerns about parking and traffic. After several public meetings the project was given the green light with conditions. Then it was time to knock out walls, erect fences, move the playground equipment and turn a residential building into a kid-friendly structure.
The ground level rooms accommodate a kitchen, art room, classroom and nap room. An unfinished downstairs level will be used for expanding the school’s services. Schaub pictures an infant and toddler program in the future, which means going through the permitting process again.
Last Wednesday, March 20, the staff and students moved into the building. Volunteers helped make the transition smooth. Volunteers also supplied much of the labor in the construction phase.
It’s a fresh new start, with a new name, a new website and a new view. One of the benefits is the ability to walk safely to town. The preschool does not do driving field trips, and the children love the walk down the hill into downtown.
Next Wednesday, April 10, from 4:30 p.m.to 6:30 p.m., Aspen Grove will be open to the public for tours. Also, the school is looking for board members, if anyone would like to help shape its future.
Schaub and two staff members Alexis Strandberg and Sammy Weiss, will welcome questions and suggestions and help parents to decide whether the pre-school meets their family needs.
It is a perfect job for Schaub who is able to bring her daughter, eight-week old Maisie, to the school. Last Monday, during a free play time, the students marched around the classroom singing Jingle Bells. They are engaged in their work as much as in their play. They love sitting in a circle in front of the gas fireplace while Weiss reads to them.
Operating year round, Aspen Grove offers a half-day session, 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and a full day, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. When the number of students allows it, the school will stay open until 5:30 p.m.
When the weather allows it, students can walk out on the deck and onto the playground which overlooks the town and Barker Reservoir. Aspen Grove is a sunny, warm, newly painted, shining school with a view that can’t be beat.